It’s all in the Preparation

So, many of you know by now that I am on the home stretch of preparing to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro the first two weeks of September.  I have 5 weeks and 2 days before leaving for an adventure of a lifetime!  I don’t know that I have ever prepared as much for a journey as I have for this one.  But as one of the words of advice from the company I am climbing with offered “Your enjoyment during the climb directly correlates to the training effort given during the previous months”.

Training for climbing a high altitude mountain (19,341 ft but who’s counting!) includes a variation of endurance training, strength training and cardio vascular

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Upper Profile Trail at Grandfather Mountain

/interval training.  There is no one kind of training to do.  Instead it is a combination of strengthening your heart and lungs to handle a high level of activity and Oxygen demand.  Add to that endurance so you can sustain the level of energy output over an extended amount of time.  Add to that strength training so you can carry your (only 25 pound) pack up the mountain.  Thankfully there are porters on Kili that carry the heavier stuff so the load is a little lighter than on other mountains.  To do this requires training 6 days a week.

So obviously with the high level of fitness required, you can’t start training one month out.  I started in February.  And I am thankful to say, I feel physically ready.  I have had some great friends (many of them new for me) that have helped me train by going on long hikes with me.  I have new encouragers at the YMCA that have heard about what I am doing and ask me questions and have been so supportive.  (I realize I look a little funny walking around the Y in my clunky hiking boots and weighted vest headed for the stairclimber).  And, I have probably sweated the full amount of my body fluids out at least 120 times!  There can be absolutely no toxins left in my system right now.  But it takes time and discipline to work up to the high level of fitness this excursion demands.  But it can be done, one day at a time.  And literally how I will get to the top of the mountain -one step at a time.

Oh, not all of the preparation is physical.  Today I sent off for my visa to enter Tanzania.  I have had to prepare a massive packing list.  Check to make sure all of my vaccines like Yellow Fever and Tetanus are up to date.  Securing a flight schedule to get me from Greensboro to Arusha, Tanzania was no easy feat- almost 18 hours in the air!  Lots of details to make sure I have in order days before boarding the plane.

The point is, 75% of this experience is in the preparation.  The anticipation of the adventure.  The attention to detail to prepare for every need but not over prepare (as you do have to carry that stuff most of the way).  The challenge of preparing yourself physically (which is my favorite part).  That is what helps make the experience

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Hiking with friends is way more fun!

amazing and positive.  Not just the amazing mountain, view, the animals, the cool new people you meet, the interesting food you get to try, or the sleeping out under the stars with no electronics within earshot!

Isn’t that how it works with our relationship with God?  We don’t just wake up one day or arrive at church and experience great joy and spiritual renewal without any sense of preparation.  God doesn’t do all the work so we just get to sit back and bask in the experience and say, “isn’t God amazing!”  So much of the work of spiritual formation and growing in our relationship with Jesus IS the preparation.  Those who enjoy a rich and deep experience of Jesus know what I’m talking about.  They have put in the hours in the spiritual gym.  They have pushed themselves to read God’s Word.  They have been disciplined to pray on a regular basis.  They have committed to giving time in their lives to worship and serve God.  The Holy Spirit uses all of this and multiplies and blesses it.  A mature spiritual life?  It’s all in the preparation.  And it happens one step at a time.

Speaking of worship, it’s also kind of the same principle.  One doesn’t just show up for worship and necessarily have a life altering experience.  But when one spends time preparing for worship, anticipating encountering God, reading the Scripture ahead of time, planning what offering we might give, longing to offer God our best whatever that might look like, then our worship experience is often full and powerful. It’s all in the preparation.  God blesses our preparation.  Deeply.

So what are you preparing for?  If you look at your schedule, what captures your heart and mental thinking time; where you spend your resources of time, money and ability; what does it tell you?  What are you preparing for?  It’s a valid question worth considering.

Grace and Peace,

Lory Beth

Let’s Do This!

It is so much fun to be a part of something way bigger than yourself.  Especially something that is part of God’s bigger plans.  I was reminded recently of a wonderful summer opportunity one of my best friends and I were a part of several summers ago.  We were both living back at home and decided to audition for the summer community theatre production of Brigadoon.  It ended up being so much fun.  We both had dance and singing experience but were not star performers by any means.  We got cast in the chorus and on the dance team and had a blast.  We were just a small part of a

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Brigadoon- Summer Theatre 1993

multifaceted performance.  We each contributed our part to the whole performance.  Without each of our contributions, it would have been incomplete.  Even the leading roles could not pull off telling the whole story without each of us doing our part along the way.  And when we closed the final performance, my friend and I looked at each and felt like we had been a part of something special, and something important.

This example is not so much about furthering God’s Kingdom, but it is about being a part of something bigger than yourself.  It is about recognizing it feels good to take on something big and meaningful and pull it off.  Let it be focused on furthering God’s Kingdom and it just multiplies the potential joy.

Centenary members and friends, we find ourselves in a position to grasp an opportunity for us all to be a part of something way bigger than any one of us individually.  We have the opportunity to impact the life story of our church, the ministries that take place within and do something hugely significant.  We have the chance to support and implement some much needed renovations to our facilities that can impact multi-generations of Centenarians for centuries to come.  These renovations have been talked about (some of them) for over 20 years!  Let’s stop talking about them and bring them to life!  Now is the time.

Our vision right now is to tackle three projects.

  1. Renovate 3 floors of our 1960’s Building for both updated Children’s Ministry space as well as expanded adult classroom space and better connection to our 1930’s building.
  2. Renovate our 4th Floor 1930’s Building that houses our Youth Ministry.
  3. Create a new lobby and 5th Street entrance into our church facility with a possible vehicular drop off and a much needed new elevator.

Now some folks question whether now is the time for Centenary to tackle such a big vision.  But the truth is, Centenary has had or found reasons for many years to postpone doing some of these much needed renovations.  Many of these spaces are original construction and are limitations and inhibitors to two strong ministries of our churches (youth and children).  Some concerns have been raised about our recalibrating our budget last year and wonder if we can do this financially.  But friends, our church is capable of doing this financially, if we see the larger vision, look at this as an awesome investment in our future, and desire to be part of something that is bigger and more meaningful than anything we could do individually.

Our Capital Campaign Planning Committee want to have church wide conversations to explore the projects we are proposing and answer questions and hear ideas from each one of you.  We want to share with you why church leadership thinks now is the time to do something big and beautiful in and through Centenary United Methodist Church.

Please accept an invitation to attend a small group conversation that will be offered coming up soon in August and into September.  Listen up for tour options so you can see some of these spaces for yourselves and how badly they need our attention.  Hold our church and its leadership in your prayers as we faithfully respond to God’s direction to invest in the future life of this church and improve the existing facilities for our own members now.

Centenary, we are a big and beautiful church filled with wonderful people who love God

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Striving to be a vibrant Christian community, loving God
and loving neighbor downtown and throughout the region.

and work hard to love one another.  As we try to live into our vision statement (see the caption) this renovation project provides us the opportunity to increase our vibrancy visually within our building; to enhance the ways we build Christian Community – especially among our children and youth ministries; it gives us ways to love our neighbor better by using our facilities in new and creative ways.  It helps us live into our Core Values of Intentional Hospitality and Engaging Discipleship.  And so much more.  But only if we as a church family come together and say right now, this is important for the life of this church, for the ability of our church to further God’s Kingdom, and for the future generations that will benefit from the work we do right now.  Only if you and I say Yes!  We want to be a part of that.  Of something bigger than we are and even bigger than what we may need personally.

 

Let’s do this Centenary!  Join us for conversation, idea sharing, and aligning the design plans with our financial abilities.  Let us joyfully say yes to God’s great plans for our church.

Grace and Peace,

Lory Beth

Oh the Things We Can Do!

I am reading (actually listening to an audio) the book, The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America, by Erik Larson and have learned so much.  I am struck by the visionary leaders and the city, and to some degree, the whole country, taking on such a massive project – the 1893 World’s Fair – and seeing images-8all that they were able to accomplish.  A group of people daring to dream big, daring to actually do something larger than most people imagined possible, daring to overcome much skepticism and hurdles to achieve greatness.  With much hard work, they were successful.  They were willing to take a risk.

We truly cannot appreciate the value and opportunity the World’s Fair brought to the world.  It was like a real-time, in person, 3-Looking_West_From_Peristyle,_Court_of_Honor_and_Grand_Basin,_1893dimensional access to the internet but for a limited time only (6 months) and limited to the topics for which exhibits had been created.  But from May to October of 1893, some of the most interesting and advanced ideas were on display.  In fact, just having the
Fair to plan for inspired so many new ideas and creative inventions, idea sharing, and experimentation that it is fascinating to consider what was born out of this event.  Here are a few:

  • Writing and reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance by children across the US
  • Moving Walkway
  • Indoor air conditioning

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    Ferris Wheel – 36 cars held 40 people each totaling 2,160 per ride, taller than the Eiffel Tower!

  • Forerunner of the zipper
  • Ferris Wheel
  • The first electric kitchen
  • Aunt Jemima pancake mix
  • Shredded wheat
  • Cream of wheat
  • Past Blue Ribbon Beer (named because it won a blue ribbon as the best beer at the fair!)
  • First exhibition of Tesla Alternating Current (AC) electricity – and for many the first time they say lightbulbs light up the nighttime sky
  • Juicy Fruit gum
  • Third Rail- elevated tracks
  • Vertical files
  • First commemorative coin from the US Mint and first Commemorative stamp from the US Postal Service

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    First Electric Kitchen

  • The first filtered and treated drinking water en mass
  • Milton Hershey bought chocolate manufacturing equipment to expand his caramel making business.

Just think about all of the positive additions that came out of the goal of tackling puttingon a World’s Fair.  Did it come with cost?  Of course.  Did it come with disagreement?  Absolutely.  Did it involve taking risks?  Yes.  Was it worth it?  You bet.

It’s scary sometimes to take risks.  The rational side of our brains can talk us out of just about everything that involves a risk and leave us living a very conservative and small life.  And then we miss out on the beautiful discovery of air conditioning.  Of the useful device called a zipper.  The magical view from on top of a Ferris Wheel.

Or to make it more personal, the intoxicating but unpredictable experience of love.  Failure to take risks can also limit our experience of this great big God we worship.   God took a risk that creating us humanity would be a blessing for this world.  God took a risk on us by sending Jesus Christ into this world.  I’m not so sure we are willing to take any risks on God.  Yet, faith in God is a sure bet.  God will not let us down.  And time and time again, when we take a risk, when we step out in faith, when we allow ourselves to trust God, when we seek the positive in our midst instead of tearing down with the negative and critical, God can create some amazing things out of nothing more than our trust and faith.

I pray that each of us as Christians can live more into our faith and trust of God.  I pray that Centenary can see the big picture and take some risks that allow amazing and unexpected future advances to bubble up within our community.  I pray that our country can live into a more trusting environment of one another.  I pray that our world may be filled with people of faith who seek the good in all situations.

As I have said numerous times before, a girl can hope.  I’ll take it one step further.  I actually believe this can be so!

Grace and Peace,

Lory Beth